Pregnancy Week 20: Ultrasound Wishes and Childbirth Dreams

Pregnancy Week 20 recap! I’m a day late, as today technically marks the beginning of Week 21, but it’s been a busy weekend. I hope no one was holding their breath.

The Internet says my baby at 20 weeks is about the size of a banana, a stapler, an endive, or 6.5 inches head to butt and about 10 and a half ounces. I say it’s big enough to kick me pretty good. We had our anatomy scan ultrasound on Thursday, and got to see fingers and toes and profile and fluttering heart chambers, but no genitalia — like last time, we’re keeping the baby’s sex a surprise.

Pregnancy-Week-20

While I was very comfortable with this choice the first time around, I had really mixed feelings–it seemed silly and artificial to shut our eyes for that part when we were literally seeing everything else, including parts of Baby 2 we’ll likely never see again. But The Husband was certain he didn’t want to know, and I waffled, and in the end didn’t request a sealed envelope with the news.

Symptoms-wise, the broken record of tolerable heartburn remains. Additionally, my chin has blossomed with pregnancy acne and the on-again, off-again relationship I’ve endured with eczema throughout my adult life is decidedly on again, in the form of a persistently itchy, red, peely, burning right pinky and ring fingers, which makes the 175 daily hand-washings all the more fun.

My bump is getting bigger, and my twice-weekly 3-mile stroller walks seem to be wearing me down more than they have been in the previous month or so.

Some people (those who encounter me on a regular basis) might also tell you I’ve been especially irritable lately.

Those people can go to hell. (Kidding! Sorry!)

This week also marks the beginning of, what I recall from my pregnancy with The Toddler, a long running theme of childbirth-related dreams. The weirdly comforting part of this is that I at least have an idea of what to expect, and so even though they’re still stressful, there isn’t quite the daunting element of mystery I remember the first time around.

I had two pregnancy dreams this past week, and the theme of both centered around not having enough time: In one, I was afraid we wouldn’t make it to the birthing center on time, and the other, I was afraid my husband wouldn’t make it home from work in time. In the second one, though, I also had what felt like a rapidly progressing, intense labor, but when I got to the hospital I was dilated zero centimeters. Either way, I have at least another 18 weeks to subconsciously build the dread and anticipation of the big day, and I suspect my dreams will be rife with more of these scenarios as time goes on.

In terms of my day-to-day toddler mom life, pregnancy Week 20 went a little better than Week 19, in that none of my pets died. It still wasn’t great, as The Toddler is fighting naps like his very life depends on it, and nothing breaks me like a missed nap.

It’s been seven days, so I think I can say officially that he is weaned. (Hallelujah/*sob*) On Monday, when he fidgeted through his usual pre-nap nursing session and then very much did not go to sleep, I decided I was done.

I had been reluctantly hanging on to that last nursing session, as it had been a nearly surefire guarantee that he would nap (and, conversely, a withheld nursing session promised a wide awake, cranky and endless afternoon).

Now that this doesn’t hold true, we’re stumbling our way toward a new nap routine, with varying success. He did nap each week day after a protracted rocking-to-sleep-while-begging-to-nurse routine that I hope to fade out, but he staunchly refused to nap all weekend. I’m hoping that as long as we don’t compensate by letting him go to bed early, he’ll eventually rack up enough of a deficit to surrender to a recovery nap the next day.

Just in case he doesn’t, though, I have finally (and, very possibly, temporarily, as my most notable personal attribute is inconsistency) found some routine to inject into our afternoons through my local library’s T.O.T. boxes: They’re file boxes filled with specially themed books, games and activities. I have reserved a different theme for the next five weeks and plan to spend a chunk of time each day reading stories, having messy play, doing a craft project, or taking a field trip related to the theme. Tomorrow kicks off Gardening Week at TLMB house. I’m looking forward to it! (But looking forward to a nap even more!)

Pregnancy Week 20: Ultrasound Wishes and Childbirth Dreams

Pregnancy Week 19: A growing, shrinking family

Today concludes Week 19 of my pregnancy, and may I say, Good Riddance.

Pregnancy-wise, things are going blessedly well. According to the creative souls who come up with these things, Baby #2 is the size of: A zucchini (I’m assuming your standard supermarket zucchini and not the neighbor’s garden variety from which you could carve out a canoe), a Gameboy, a hotdog, or a pair of sunglasses. Hmm… OK. In real terms that means it is about 6 inches long and 8.5 ounces.

My symptoms haven’t changed much; the heartburn remains a near-constant but still tolerable presence, and I have found myself getting winded more quickly when I climb stairs, but otherwise I’m feeling pretty good. This upcoming week we’ll have our anatomy scan, and the following week is my next appointment with my midwife, during which I will likely plead for heartburn relief of some kind.

(Incidentally, I saw a video on Instagram or somewhere from a mom explaining that pregnancy heartburn easily is eliminated by taking 100 deep breaths. I haven’t found the time this week to string more than five deep breaths together at a time, and I don’t mean to be a complete cynic, but… I expect this is bullshit.)

The real theme this week has been, unfortunately, loss (that, and toddler diarrhea, but nobody wants that recap.)

Last weekend, my beloved cat, Bills, died suddenly from an undetermined illness. In the span of 24 hours he went from seeming perfectly fine (he even hopped into The Toddler’s crib on Saturday morning to indulge in some tentative snuggling) to weak, with labored breathing that had me rushing, too late, to an emergency vet.

Soon after, I had to make the urgent and heartbreaking decision to have him put out of his misery. In the end, he was too dehydrated to have any blood work or to be able to get an IV inserted, so I have no idea what killed him, and I wasn’t allowed to be in the room when he was euthanized. My husband and I buried him under a white pine tree and sprinkled wildflower seeds on his grave.

I know that the price you pay for the unconditional love of a pet is the inevitable goodbye at the end, but God, it’s hard. Bills slept as my “little spoon,” with his head on my pillow, almost every night for the past eight years. He was the through line for every scene change, major milestone, disappointment and triumph of my entire adult life.

He wandered into the backyard of the first house I rented with my then boyfriend (now husband), who named him “Bills” in an unsuccessful attempt to deter us from taking in a pet we could hardly afford at the time. Bills reluctantly traveled with us through five moves, tolerated and eventually loved the second cat and the dog we brought home, let me cry into his fur when I had a miscarriage, and sat with me in the predawn Christmas morning hours while I started timing the first contractions that brought my son into the world. He was a steadfast, uncomplicated source of comfort, and that was the hardest part of losing him: He wasn’t there to console me.

So  that’s the bittersweet cloud that has hung over the past week, as my belly gets rounder and time marches on. My family shrunk a little even as it grows. Though we suffered a loss, we get to keep the memories. And that’s something.

Pregnancy Week 19: A growing, shrinking family

Pregnancy Week 18: Kickin’ it

It’s near the end of Week 18, and Baby 2 is the size of a:

bell pepper, sweet potato, croissant, tall Frappuccino with whip, or a multi-tool.

red_bell_pepper
By AntanO (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
These comparisons are always really baffling to me because  I don’t think a multi-tool is the same size as a bell pepper.

Regardless, Baby 2 is getting bigger by the second and dancing around in there like crazy.

This week’s fun milestone is that The Husband got to feel Baby 2 kick on one particularly rowdy evening.

Aside from that, it’s been pretty smooth sailing… guess they don’t call it the Golden Trimester for nothing (do they call it the Golden Trimester? I don’t know.)

I had a dream last night that I had the baby. It was a really quick, easy and nearly painless delivery (ha!) but I was out of town and gave birth alone in a strange hospital. Also, to my immense shock, the baby in my dream was a girl.

We have our anatomy scan in a couple weeks, but just like last time, we’re not finding out the sex of the baby. I am more tempted this time around, but I’m still happy to have a surprise (and to avoid any potential onslaught of tutus and sequins, or “High Maintenance” or “Strong Like Daddy” bullshit sexist baby clothes).

Despite the idea of a surprise, I’m about 95% sure it’s going to be a boy, judging by The Husband’s family’s track record.

And I mean it when I say that I’m happy either way. I love my son, and I will love my next baby, whoever he or she (or non gender-conforming pronoun) is.

By the end of next week, I’ll be at the halfway point in this pregnancy already. Insane. Guess it’s time to start seriously thinking about rearranging some furniture and making a baby names list.

Pregnancy Week 18: Kickin’ it

Pregnancy Week 17: Pregnancy Body Image and My Muffin Bump

Pregnancy Week 17

Week 17 quick stat breakdown:

Baby is the size of a: pomegranate, chipmunk, video game controller? (About 5 inches long and 5 ounces).

The baby’s bones are transforming from cartilage to actual bone, and its body starting to build fat.

Speaking of building fat, I thought I’d devote this week to talking about pregnancy body image. (Mine, more specifically).

It’s the last day of week 17 for this pregnancy, and aside from some still sporadic (thank goodness) heartburn and the occasional flutter kicks I feel low in my pelvis, I’ve mostly just felt fat this week, to be honest.

I am carrying lowwwww this time around, surely because my abdominal muscles are still pretty wrecked (and neglected) from the last time they got stretched to the limit a mere 19 months ago. So I’m at the bump stage where if I’m wearing the right maternity clothes, and I let it all hang out, I look pregnant, but if I’m minding my posture at all, or wearing something with the slightest trace of a waistband, all I see is muffin top.

Mostly, I’m okay with this. I feel grateful to have hit a stage in my life where my self worth doesn’t feel entirely hinged on what I see in the mirror. My pregnancy with my first baby and childbirth gave me a profound respect for my body’s abilities and a strong antidote to the idea that I owe the world a certain degree of beauty to occupy space here. (Sure, when I go too far between haircuts or wake to discover my weird allergies have given me one puffy purple eye in the morning, I feel less like going to the grocery store, but I haven’t crumpled into tears while standing on the scale in a long time.)

That being said, I sorta miss the “just a bump” look I was rocking at 17 weeks the last time around. I’m having more of a spreading-out pregnancy this time around, and I still need to make peace with this different, and still entirely fine and healthy, pregnancy body of mine.

Fortunately I’m still in the phase where it’s very questionable whether I’m actually pregnant, so the only commentary I’m fighting in this battle for self-esteem is my own. But judging by my last pregnancy, that will change soon, and I’m bracing myself.

Last time around, a coworker stopped me in the ladies’ room to reflect on how big I looked compared to another coworker who was pregnant, six weeks ahead of me, and how she was carrying “just in the belly” and I was carrying “all over” with hand motions to drive home the point that I looked like a behemoth. It was a cruel thing to say in such a casual, innocent tone, I would have flipped my shit had this woman not confided in me months before I became pregnant that she had finally given up after 10 years of infertility. I told myself she was coming from a place of deep pain and tried to feel sympathy for her while I internally seethed.

That being said, if you know me and see me in person, please remember this common courtesy that I, if not all pregnant women, appreciate, regarding our bodies: If you wouldn’t say it to a non-pregnant acquaintance, keep it to yourself.

I don’t want to say how big, or small, or pudgy, or like I’m carrying twins, or guppies, or donuts, I look.

As the moms at One Bad Mother have wisely advised, the only appropriate thing to say to a pregnant woman is, “You look great.”

Pregnancy Week 17: Pregnancy Body Image and My Muffin Bump

Pregnancy Week 16: Hello, Heartburn

Happy Week 16, me!

Baby stats:

Baby is the size of a… dill pickle, avocado, small gerbil, action figure.

Baby is now covered in lanugo, its heart is pumping 25 quarts of blood a day, and it is kicking with growing frequency.

Speaking of lanugo, it’s seeming likely I’m well on my way to having another baby with a head full of hair, and it’s not just an old wives’ tale.

Because once again, it’s heartburn time.

I’ve been dreading its inevitable arrival this pregnancy, and there’s no denying it: Week 16 has been the official debut of full-fledged heartburn.

Pregnancy Week 16-

When I was pregnant with The Toddler, it started off as a light burning sensation in the back of my throat after some meals that I tamped back down with a handful of Tums, and gradually it evolved into a perpetual feeling my back teeth were dissolving and the shocking wake from a dead sleep a few times a week because I was suddenly choking on acid.

My OB ended up prescribing me some legit heartburn medication (I think it was Prilosec?) that I felt reallllly nervous about taking because it was a Class C drug and I hadn’t so much as used scented laundry detergent up until that point because I was paranoid about causing a loss or birth defect or irredeemable personality flaw in my unborn baby. But after a week or so of not being able to eat, I caved, and never looked back. (So far, any of The Toddler’s personality flaws are still redeemable and connect quite clearly back to his progenitors.)

I don’t know how else to make heartburn sound entertaining, so let’s move along.

I had an appointment with my midwife on Monday this week. I got to hear the baby’s heartbeat on the doppler, which was nice because at the last appointment they weren’t able to find it and ended up doing a “quick ultrasound just to double-check” that sent me into a brief but genuine tailspin of worry.

I discussed with her our decision to forego a doula this time around, which she supported. If you read my first birth story, you’ll know I strongly encourage everyone to bring a doula on board your birth team for a myriad of reasons, but considering the very different environment of a birth center, the speed with which my first birth progressed, the added expense of this birth (plus the fact I’m working EXTREMELY part-time now), we’ve decided to save the money and commit to some serious husband-wife bonding to prepare for this birth.

So far on my list are: Buy paper fan for fanning me, make laminated flashcard deck with supportive phrases other than, “Good job. You are doing a good job,” which became The Husband’s mantra during The Toddler’s birth and eventually made me want to rip his throat out (I love you), and…that’s it. We have plenty of time to figure out the rest.

I ordered some new maternity T-shirts and tanks because my belly really just looks like a gut if I’m in regular clothes, and almost all my maternity shirts from last time around are long-sleeved. Because I wasn’t this big this early last time around. I’ve been trying to keep up with some degree of exercise despite the 85+ heat this week, and every time I try to eat a fudgesicle the Toddler steals it from me, so my plan for sensible weight gain this time around is going great.

So that’s it for Week 16: Heartburn, being sweaty, and having a blessedly uneventful midwife appointment. I’ll take it!

 

Pregnancy Week 16: Hello, Heartburn

Farm Life Interlude: And then there were five

Remember for a chunk of time how this became barely a parenting blog and more a blog about very tame backyard farming? If not, here are a few samplings from that time:

Well, because I generally have the brain power for just one post a week, and because I’m pregnant again and therefore have a pretty easy framework for new material, I have neglected to talk much about our little menagerie for awhile. But I wanted to take a moment to memorialize a sad milestone in our farming adventure.

Last week, on a dark and stormy night, we lost a chicken.

Hera was a good chicken. She was about 17 weeks old, the only Buff Orpington in our little half-dozen flock. She was timid and sweet, she didn’t like to be pet but would eat out of my hand. She was getting big and nearing the time she’d start laying eggs. She had recently lost a bunch of tail feathers, making her look (to me, at least) the most dinosaur-like of all our chickens whenever she broke into a run.

Hera
Rest in peace, chickie.

I promised him I wouldn’t invoke the wrath of the Internet when telling this story, and I hope not to because he doesn’t deserve it: The Husband took a break from working on his laptop last Monday to lock the chickens in their coop for the night. (They free range all day and put themselves to bed at about 8:30.) He went out to check on them before the storm rolled in — even counted them all because they dogpile in their nesting boxes instead of roosting and are sometimes hard to see (need to figure that one out…) and then, unfortunately, went inside without remembering to close and latch the door to the chicken run.

In the night, something (fox? raccoon? coyote?) crept in and snatched up Hera. Whatever it was left behind a trail of bloody feathers and a rattled remaining flock. I think the thrashing, hours-long storm that struck was a stroke of luck because it probably kept away any later predators who would have taken advantage of the situation.

The Husband was beside himself with regret the next morning when I went to let the chickens out and found all but one emerging from under our porch. I felt sadder than I expected to, but not angry. For as absent-minded as I’ve been lately, it could have just as easily been me who forgot to latch the run.

Or, it could have been if I were ever awake late enough for it to be my job. The Husband has picked up so much slack since the pregnancy fatigue sunk in, including night chores for the animals, I feel bad that the responsibility has fallen almost solely on him.

Today, while walking around our pond with The Toddler before bedtime, I heard our dog crunch something (unusual, as she’s not a stick chewer) and found she had unearthed a chicken thigh bone with a few orange feathers stuck to it. Hera’s remains.

I can’t count how many chicken thigh bones I’ve discarded over the years without a second thought, but I picked up this one and brought it back to the porch.

Maybe it’s silly to bury a chicken, but that’s what we’re going to do.

She was a good egg.

 

Farm Life Interlude: And then there were five

Pregnancy Week 15: Surfacing (and popping)

Pregnancy Week 15

I’m going to try to keep this brief, because this post is the only thing standing between me and bedtime. Today wraps up Week 15 of my second pregnancy, and it finally feels like I have my feet back underneath me (though my view of them is beginning to be obstructed.)

I still feel tired from time to time, and I think I eked out a nap once this week, but I have gotten into a groove of cleaning my house again… something I didn’t realize how badly I was neglecting until I picked up the habit again this week. It’s still far from spotless, but the past two months it would have been a rare treat to find my dining room table not littered with splats of yogurt and desiccated peas. The Toddler actual has clean laundry on most days, and I have even run the vacuum a few times this week.

I have a vague memory of this feeling of coming back to life from my first first trimester, having settled into a routine of falling soundly asleep after dinner and waking in the morning feeling like I had been asleep for just a few minutes; feeling almost lonely in my exhaustion because The Husband was up for hours without me and we hardly had time to talk, let alone sit around and watch our favorite shows together or do any of the other things we enjoyed; and then suddenly, I was better. I still couldn’t necessarily swing a late night movie, but I could manage to cook dinner without crying in front of the refrigerator or falling asleep at my plate.

So here I am again: That sweet, sweet second trimester.

I woke up this morning feeling like my belly had finally “popped.” While I’ve already gained about 7-8 pounds by my estimation, I have just felt chubby up to this point, but I put on a maternity skirt to go to the farmer’s market this morning and thought I looked obviously pregnant instead of just lumpy.

New this pregnancy is periodic, agonizing foot pain that feels like a deep, throbbing bruise in one or another part of either of my feet. It seems to be brought on by wearing unsupportive shoes (like flip-flops) for any length of time, so it looks like I’ll be rocking athletic shoes with every outfit for the rest of my pregnancy. I didn’t have this problem the last time around, and I walked four miles a day most days. I guess I can chalk this up to starting off a couple pounds heavier and a couple years older than the last time I did this. *Yay.*

Finally, Week 15 has marked the introduction of extra pillows into my sleep space. Right now I’m fairly comfortable with one pillow between my knees (or folded in half under my feet on those days when the weird bruise-swelling makes it impossible to fall asleep unless I elevate my feet). This begins the slow descent into the inevitable reintroduction of The Snoogle.

I developed a love-hate relationship with this enormous, G-shaped pillow the first time around. Love, because it afforded me a modicum of comfort when I was big and round and achy; hate, because it took up the entire bed and required me to completely strip all my covers every time I wanted to roll over, and took up so much space that my husband seriously considered a permanent move to the guest bed. The Snoogle is currently balled up in a trash bag hanging in The Toddler’s closet… it won’t be long now, old friend.

Well, in true me form I’ve cranked out 600 words for a “short” blog post. Week 15 has been pretty good to me, even if it has included a sad loss of a farm friend (more on that in a separate post) and the inexplicable shortening of naps to an hour and a half, paired with daily wakings between 5 a.m. and 5:30 a.m for The Toddler. I can’t have it all, but I’ll take what I’ve got.

Bedtime!

Pregnancy Week 15: Surfacing (and popping)